inspires those he has helped
people seek naturopathic therapies
as a popular health care alternative
(March 2008) For decades, stories frequently surfaced
about a simple Amish man who had an amazing gift for healing sick people.
But few could recall his name or where he lived. The story often said
he moved from place to place until he finally died.
Kentucky & Indiana
But according to his loyal followers, the stories are
not myth. He is alive and well. In fact, Amish herbalist Solomon Wickey,
world renown for his healing abilities, lived for almost 10 years on
a farmstead on Scotts Ridge Road in Jefferson County, Ind. In November
2002, he moved to Auburn, Ind., in DeKalb County, where he remains today
actively working to help people in need at no charge.
Wickey, 70, was born in Adams County, Ind., to an Old Order Amish family
on Feb. 27, 1938. The Old Order Amish community adheres to the strict
literal interpretation and doctrine handed down by their Swiss ancestors
of the New Testament of the Bible.
In a book, Solomons Touch: The Life and Work of Solomon
J. Wickey, published in 2005 by author June Naugle, she discusses
the life and work of Solomon Wickey, including the trial in which he
was accused of practicing medicine in Indiana without a license. Wickey
was completely vindicated in the case.
In her book, Naugle explained why Wickey appears to be elusive and hard
to contact. She said because of strict Amish customs, Wickey does not
use conventional communications devices, such as the telephone; therefore,
people looking for him cant just pick up the phone and call him.
They must write a letter.
Because of the Amish rules, he is also not allowed to talk about himself,
so he does not give out interviews to media or others. There are no
pictures of him. Amish tradition does not allow photography, so he is
unrecognizable to anyone unfamiliar with him.
Naugle became a friend and loyal admirer of Wickey after he helped her
recover from a serious on-the-job accident in which she nearly died.
Her injuries werent healing properly, and like others, she had
heard of an Amish healer who could help her.
Solomon has intuitiveness about whats wrong with people,
she said in a February telephone interview. He has many ways for
discovering what is wrong. Naugle believes Solomon is guided to
the problems by God.
Naugle went regularly to visit Wickey and became friends with him. She
said he is a quiet man, but yet, fun-loving. She said he also keeps
very current on world affairs by reading and is very intelligent. You
cant help but be drawn to him.
In her book, Naugle chronicles Wickeys incredible and rapid rise
to fame. She said that as a child, Wickey had a love for gardening and
a desire to help people. As he grew, so did those desires. An avid horseman,
he became fascinated with the science of iridology and the benefits
of treating ills with natural herbs after he unwillingly attended a
lecture one evening in 1976 with his wife, Anna Mae. Wickey thought
he could use iridology, in which the iris is examined to find weaknesses
or illness in the body, and herbal treatments to better care for his
by Konnie McCollum
Weber is a naturopathic healer
who works out of Columbus, Ind., and
sees people at Miss Vivians Herbs
and More in Madison, Ind.
Wickey, amazed with iridology and herbs, began to practice
on his wife, 13 children, friends, and coworkers in an effort to gain
more experience and more knowledge about the techniques. He went to
every seminar, class and conference he could on herbal healing, nutrition
and natural healing. Although he put up no signs and did nothing to
advertise his gift, word began to spread that he had an exceptional
talent for healing people. Strangers began to simply show up at his
farm looking for help. Even when he was at work, people would wait for
hours for him.
Kayla Dowling, 46, is one of those people who waited in long lines for
hours to see Wickey. In the late 1980s when she was in her late 20s,
she had been constantly ill. She went to more than 20 doctors, including
specialists, who couldnt figure out what was wrong with her. She
regularly experienced light-headedness, incredible fatigue, heart problems
and other ailments.
One doctor told me to learn to live with my problems, while another
told me to go to a psychiatrist, she said. Although I was
working as a teacher in central Illinois at the time, I actually began
to research disability options.
Instead, her mother-in-law, who had been to see Wickey and had recommended
him to a number of people, convinced her to give him a try. On her first
visit, she waited more than three hours, and on her second visit more
than four hours.
The experience was simply fascinating, and a little hard to believe
at first, she said. He didnt speak much, but when
he did, he was very patient, very open to questions and made it as easy
to understand as possible.
According to her, he was a great listener and never made her feel rushed
or as if he had anything on his mind except for helping her. She said
he used a combination of iridology, kinesiology, which is a muscle energy
technique, and other physical observations to determine the best plan
for her. I wanted to keep up my visits with him because I had
immediate results from the herbal supplements he suggested, she
said. Unfortunately, the distance and time made it impossible
for me to do so.
Dowling now lives in Alabama and enjoys good health. She believes Wickey
has an incredible gift for helping people improve their health. He
understands that the basis of health is nutrition; and while his methods
may seem unusual to most people, they do work.
In 1983, an Adams County, Ind., physician Dr. George Merkle filed a
complaint against Wickey for practicing medicine without a license.
According to Naugle, Dr. Merkles patients were turning to Wickey
for help with their problems, and he wanted to shut Wickey down.
The Indiana Attorney Generals office filed charges and Wickey
was put on trial in the Adams County Circuit Court. Spectators filled
the courthouse during the trial in which Wickey was found not guilty
of the charges filed against him.
Dr. Eugene Watkins, N.D., a naturopathic doctor and nutritional expert,
was the expert witness for Wickeys defense. In a February telephone
interview, Watkins said he was very nervous during the trial. I
felt like I was being mashed down to the size of a marble because Wickeys
life was on the line.
Watkins, who resides in Michigan, is a longtime friend of Wickeys.
They met while Watkins was working as a sales person for Natures
Sunshine, a Utah-based herb company that supplied Solomon with the herbs
he suggested to people.
Wickey has deep and abiding religious convictions, said
Watkins. His sole intention for working is to see people get well;
he is not guided by money.
The life & work of
Solomon J. Wickey"
by June Naugle
Watkins, who also holds degrees in biology, botany, biochemistry
and plant physiology, owns Pure Herbs LTD, a company that produces liquid
herbs. He sells several trademarked formulas Wickey has created. Watkins
said Wickeys immense popularity is because he truly loves people.
You can simply feel his love.
People have traveled from as far away as Africa, China, Holland and
France to see Wickey, said one of Wickeys close friends who only
goes by the name David.
When Wickey became ill and was unable to continue seeing people last
year, David, who has worked with him for 12 years, took over Wickeys
work. As many as 100 people a day come to see Solomon, he
said. Even conventional medical doctors come for help from Solomon.
We had an oncologist bring his wife in recently.
David met Wickey through a friend. For 12 years, he has traveled two
days a week from Louisville, Ky., to Auburn to work with Wickey. He
said Wickeys illness forced him to stop working for awhile, but
he started seeing people again in January. However, he no longer sees
walk-ins who just show up at his door. Instead, he only sees people
by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
If you write him a letter, he will answer it, said David.
Getting an appointment may take a while, though.
Don Folck of Bainbridge, Ind., was diagnosed in 2001 with glioblastoma,
a hemorrhaging brain tumor. Doctors told Folck that 95 percent of people
with his condition die within two years, and the other 5 percent make
it to the two-year mark. He went through painful rounds of radiation
and chemotherapy and had surgery to remove the tumor. But the tumor
always returned. Doctors then told him there was nothing more they could
do except keep him alive for a while with chemotherapy and radiation.
He went through aggressive chemotherapy, but then suffered a stroke.
I prayed a lot, and I started to search for other help,
said Folck, 55. I was desperate to live.
Two people he talked to recommended he visit Wickey. He tried to get
in touch with Wickey, but he couldnt. Instead, Folck found natural
healer Donna Perkinson, a former student of Solomon Wickeys.
In November 2004, Folck went to see Perkinson at her North Vernon, Ind.,
shop, Open Minds. I left after that visit with the one thing doctors
had not been able to give me, said Folck. That thing was
Through her use of kinesiology, or neuromuscular sensitivity testing
of the body in the presence and absence of any substance, Perkinson
was able to put together a plan of action for Folck to follow.
She put me on this strict diet to get rid of the toxins in my
body, he said. That diet included nutrition, natural herbs
and faith. He followed her suggestions completely and went back
to her four months later. She declared his cancer was gone.
Right after that, Folck decided to keep his scheduled visit with his
oncologist, which included an MRI to check the status of his tumor.
It was indeed gone. We were skeptical when we first started out
researching this natural healing thing, but now we know it does indeed
work, he said. I know that only God can heal, but he does
use the hands of people like Donna and Solomon to help us.
Perkinson, 55, is just one of the many natural healers in the area.
Another is Jake Schwartz, Wickeys own nephew who sees people at
his home on Scotts Ridge Road in Jefferson County, Ind.
There are a variety of techniques the healers use, including iridology,
kinesiology, and energy therapies such as Reikki therapy. Some healers,
including Wickey, use what is called a release therapy to
rid people of disease or illness. In a release, which requires spirituality
and a basic faith in God, hands are laid on the ill person and the affliction
is released out of the body.
Perkinson traveled to Wickeys home in Madison three days a week
for a year to observe and learn from him. She believes naturopathic,
or holistic healing, is becoming more acceptable and more popular as
people become better educated about it.
People fear what they dont understand, she said. We
simply believe that through proper nutrition the body can learn to heal
Jerome Weber of Columbus, Ind., is a certified naturopathic healer.
He graduated from the Trinity College of Natural Health in Warsaw, Ind.
Many of his teachers also taught Wickey. He works with Perkinson at
her North Vernon shop and has his own facility in Columbus. He recently
began offering his services at Herbs & More, located at 111 Miles
Ridge Rd. in Madison. He visits the herb shop twice a month on Saturdays
and offers suggestions for people looking for natural remedies. He will
also perform an iridology or kinesiology test on people.
We treat people as a whole individual, explained Weber,
55. Instead of treating just the symptoms like allopathic, or
conventional medicine, we use symptoms as a path to say something is
not working right.
Weber believes the lifestyle in this country is poisoning people, but
if people could be educated about healthier lifestyles, then the body
could learn to cure itself. He said preventative health is the main
goal of naturopathic medicine.
Weber believes there is resurgence in naturopathic medicine, which is
widely popular outside of the United States, because people are looking
for other options. People come because they are desperate for
During the 1980s, Weber heard about the Amish healer in the area and
went to visit him. He watched Wickey work over the next several years
but did not become a student of his. If we all would have been
smart enough, we would have been by his side learning, like Donna did.
Symons, a Realtor in New
Albany, Ind., with Schuler Bauer
Real Estate , gets suggestions
from Donna Perkinson.
Gigi Straub, a licensed practical nurse, offers a variety
of complementary health services at her Complementary Health, 302 Jefferson
St., in Madison. While in nursing school at Ivy Tech Community College,
she learned about holistic health care because it was part of the curriculum
at that time. Holistic health is actually an approach to life that emphasizes
the connection of mind, body and spirit. The goal of holistic health
is to achieve maximum well-being where everything functions the very
best way that is possible.
Straub began using her massage therapies and other relaxation techniques
about 12 years ago as an additional service for recovering patients.
Emotional scars and stress can cause chronic pain, she said.
People can become bombarded with negativity and their bodies become
Because she believes people can use their own energy to heal themselves,
she also uses several energy therapies, including Reikki and Integrated
Energy Therapy. Most people dont believe they can have energy
to heal, she said. But they can, and it does work.
She believes people should look for conventional physicians that are
open to holistic health care, but she cautions against self-doctoring.
Talk to your doctor, and discuss any herbs you use, she
said. Conventional medicines and herbs can interact in various
ways, and sometimes those ways can be bad.
Madisons Tim Palmer, the pharmacist for Kings Daughters
Hospital Home Health and Hospice Care, believes that naturopathic healing
has merit but should be used in cooperation with conventional medicine.
In his work with hospice, a service that provides extensive care for
terminally ill patients, he has seen both positive and negative effects
of naturopathic medicine.
Many times, we get people who insisted a certain herb would cure
them, and it didnt, he said. On the other hand, the
overuse of antibiotics by health officials is cheating the body from
an opportunity to learn to heal itself.
He said he has also seen people use faith, which plays a major role
in naturopathic medicine, to recover from illness or disease. Recently,
a woman who had advanced lung cancer and was referred to Hospice for
care insisted God would heal her. She prayed and remained steadfast
in her faith that she would recover.
Her tumor actually shrank, and she was discharged from Hospice,
Anyone interested in visiting Solomon Wickey
should write to him at:
6308 County Road 43, Auburn, IN 46706. Anyone interested in visiting
Donna Perkinson at Open Minds should call (812) 346-1213. Anyone interested
in visiting Jerome Weber should call (812) 371-3015 or (317) 883-1100.
Anyone interested in visiting Gigi Straub of Complementary Health, should
call (812) 273-8991.
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